I’m excited. The Blue Room has discovered Spotify. It promises to be the perfect tool. It hasn’t arrived yet. Our computer is in dry-dock. When it’s back a family boffin will install it allowing the listening of whole albums legally, rather than just snippets. Thus a firmer base for the purchase of music ‘discoveries’ can be deduced. The Blue Room’s scribe, me, loves to find new stuff. I would like to think I am not your typical 60 plus year old stuck in a musical time warp of the musical heroes from my pomp – such as it was. And I still purchase actual CD albums – yes, I know, this techno-ignoramous is a throwback to another age compared to the hipster generation, but I still value having the music in my hand rather than somewhere up in the clouds.
And in 2013, even after the passing of the years since I bought Sgt Peppers way back in 1967, the beat of rock/country still flows through me. This year purchasing and playing new music has still enhanced my world. I know, as befits my age, I am not really up with the latest musical wonders – but my sources – ‘Uncut’ magazine, my BTD (Beautiful Talented Daughter), Paul, Caleb, Troy et al, all of whom recommend what they think I’d like, knowing my parameters pretty well. I’d like to think that I am reasonably eclectic – you may scoff but judge for yourself contemplating my list of the best of the last twelve months below. They are the albums I genuinely love – the ones that have been on high rotation on my music machine during the year. So here you go, presenting the Blue Room’s top albums of 2013:-
10. ‘Old Socks’ – Eric Clapton – Old Slowhand was probably just going through the motions recording this – I’ll grant you that. But as I can’t get enough of God, these renderings of some hoary covers will have to do.
09. ‘The Low Highway’ – Steve Earl – Here the sexiest man in alt country – BTD’s words, not mine – has produced his best for a while. This much married troubadour still has the fire.
08. ‘Imitations’ – Mark Lanegan – Another covers collection delivered in that voice of gravel – a departure from his attractive collaborations with Isobel Campbell.
07. ‘Even the Stars are a Mess’ – Whitley – The year’s most infectious song (Track 2 – ‘TV’) surrounded by plenty of other quality product. He’s been away to find himself but now he’s back with a good’un.
05. ‘English Rain’ – Gabrielle Aplin – ‘Discovered’ by yours truly on a UK talk show, the CD was cheap in JBs and I fell in love with it. And what a beautiful young lady to boot!
04. ‘My Favourite Picture of You’ – Guy Clark – The old songwriters’ songwriter’s paen to his life partner who is no more – heart-wrenching.
03. ‘The Beast in its Tracks’ – Josh Ritter – His last was a tad disappointing, but he is back with a bang and how!
02. ‘All the Little Lights’ – Passenger – a voice to love (me) or hate – but for my money two classic tracks with classy supports.
01. ‘The Great Country Songbook’ – Troy Cassar-Daley/Adam Harvey – this unlikely hit has now morphed into the year’s most controversial release thanks to Christmas Grinch John Williamson. It’s a buoyant collection of old chestnuts from two knockabout lads having a great time in the studio, as well as live. It took us all back to other places and other times. Only a crusty old curmudgeon would dis its success.
A couple of this year’s hopefuls just failed to make the cut. I’ve only been in possession of Nick Cave’s ‘Push the Sky Away’ for a few days but I am currently obsessed – sonorously magnificent. Neko Case’s ‘Worst Things Get……’ and Camera Obscura’s ‘Desire Lines’ were the best of the rest. The Hunters and Collectors tribute ‘Cauldron’ is well worth a listen, as is John Fogerty’s set of Duets recreating CCR’s hits with various folks – ‘Wrote a Song for Everyone’. The Emmylou Harris/Rodney Crowell collaboration ‘Old Yellow Moon’ stands up, as does Laura Marling’s ‘Once I was an Eagle’. Kim Richey (‘Thorn in My Heart’) and Patty Griffen (‘American Kid’) also had fine issues.
So, over to you BTD, as well as anyone else up for the exercise.